I fell in love with letterforms when I was a little girl—as a voracious reader and spelling bee competitor, their distinct personalities captivated me. I wrote my name and saw a caterpillar... the a was the head, the n’s were legs skittering across the paper. Crayon-drawn letters sprouted limbs and faces; cursive writing was a proud obsession.
I went on to study at the Rhode Island School of Design where I was introduced to letterpress printing, papermaking, bookbinding, and lettercarving in stone—disciplines that combine writing, typography, design, and craft in the making of handmade objects. After graduating with a BFA in graphic design, I spent two years at the North Bennet Street School in Boston earning a diploma in bookbinding.
In the years since, while working as a graphic designer, I’ve continued to carve lettering in stone. My pieces have evolved to become more conceptual—found stones intrigued me with the mystery of what they had been part of; reading about Cape Ann’s geology was a gentle reminder that our rocks have definitely NOT been here forever (though they feel that way). I began to write and carve my own words. Brush-drawn lettering, which was initially only a way to compose inscriptions for stones, took on a life of its own as a more immediate way to present my writing.
There is something incomparable about the process of creating this work. It begins with writing—scribbled, revised, revised again, messy, expressive, cathartic—reacting, distilling, putting words to what I see and feel. Lettering out these words with a brush and paint is a silent performance—a fluid, gestural, focused, slow-motion translation into visual presence. Carving is elemental—the physical removal of stone with a mallet and chisel. Words become tactile, dimensional, undeniable, permanent, enduring—an integral part of something that seemed unalterable.
all images and work on this site © ann conneman